Fight Disease

Your Complete Guide to Histiocytoma in Dogs

Histiocytoma in dogs are benign, meaning non-cancerous.  They usually occur in dogs under 2 years of age and affect certain breeds including Bull Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Boxers, to name a few.  Unlike its cousin the mast cell tumor, histiocytomas are more of a nuisance than a danger.

I created the following list as an easy guide for you to learn about histiocytoma in dogs, and I’ve included additional material to help you separate cancerous tumors from non-cancerous tumors.  By the time you’re finished reading this post, you will understand the symptoms, treatment options, and sheer patience required when dealing with this benign tumor.

Please read my privacy policy and disclaimer.  I am not a veterinarian and I cannot diagnose canine medical conditions.

There could be affiliate links on this page which means if you click on one, I will get compensated.  However, it will not cost you a dime.

Complete Guide to Benign Histiocytoma in Dogs

The following list provides the signs, symptoms, and typical characteristics of these benign tumors.  Also known as cutaneous histiocytoma in dogs, these tumors usually appear on the head, neck, ears, or limbs. 

1 Fast Growing

Histiocytoma in dogs are fast-growing tumors.  They have a slightly menacing look that tends to put dog owners in a state of panic. Expect the tumor to be pink or reddish in color with a smooth top. Be prepared, because they are disgusting.  Most of the time there’s only one tumor; however, it is possible for there to be multiple masses. Benign tumors like this are moveable when palpated.

2. Itchy

Initially, this tumor may bother you more than it does your dog. They’re not pretty to look at!  As wounds heal, the body releases histamine as an autoimmune response and that makes the tumor very itchy.

At this stage, it’s important to prevent your dog from scratching or biting it.  Depending on the tumor’s location, you may need to use an Elizabethan collar or other type of barrier to prevent that..  When your dog starts scratching the tumor, you know it’s starting to heal.

3. Will Cure Themselves

As much as you want to get that lump removed, it’s important to know that histiocytoma in dogs usually resolve on their own within 3 months.  

There’s never anything simple when it comes to dogs and medical procedures. If your dog is young and is presenting with this issue, the veterinarian will likely suspect histiocytoma.  Depending on the veterinarian’s experience with these, he/she may suggest waiting until it shows signs of regression.  Other veterinarians may suggest aspirating some cells to view under a microscope just in case.

This is just my opinion, but I would rather be safe than sorry. If it were my dog, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a wait-and-see approach.  No matter how much reassurance I had, the best reassurance comes from a laboratory test.  I would want to know whether it was benign (most likely scenario) or malignant.

Only in Young Dogs

This type of tumor typically presents in very young dogs, usually under two or three years of age.  However, it can occur in older dogs from time to time.  Histiocytoma in dogs look and feel the same no matter their age.

Please note:  There’s a lot of variation in the age of onset, although younger than 3 years of age appears the most widely accepted range. 

Read all about Mast Cell Tumor Dog Life Expectancy

Common Among Certain Breeds

 The following breeds are susceptible to histiocytoma in dogs:

  • Bull Terriers
  • Boston Terriers
  • American Staffordshire Terriers
  • Shar Pei
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Greyhounds

Histiocytoma in Dogs Originate in the Langheran Cells

The Langheran cells are found in all layers of the skin, but are most prominent in the stratum spinosum (the third layer of the epidermis). These cells form part of your dog’s immune response and work to prevent dangerous microbes from passing through.  Bacterial and viral microorganisms are detained by these cells. In addition, the Langheran cells work to protect the body against skin damage caused by UVB radiation.

Histiocytoma in dogs occurs when the cells grow and divide too much. This action results in small, red, button shaped tumors.  Sometimes there is more than one tumor (mass), but it is unlikely.

Not Painful

Histiocytoma in dogs are not painful. However, depending on the tumor’s location, the tumor can be irritated by friction and that can cause the tumor to ulcerate.  A scratched or ulcerated tumor is susceptible to bacterial infection.

How can you tell the dog is not in pain?  The following signs of pain have NOT been reported in dogs with histiocytoma:

  • agitation
  • yelp or growl when you’re close to the dog
  • sensitivity to touch
  • unusually quiet
  • depressed
  • might stop eating
  • shallow breathing (possible)

Size & Appearance

Expect to see a small, perfectly round and raised lump.  Histiocytoma in dogs tend to grow very fast in the first four weeks until the settle at about 2.5 cm.

Button Shaped

This is pretty self-explanatory, but histiocytoma in dogs look like buttons and so are aptly named “button tumors”.

Red & Raised

These tumors are pink – red and are raised on the skin.  It’s tempting to want to mess with a growth on your dog’s skin as a way to try and get rid of it faster. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to wait, you’re out of luck. This tumor takes a few months to regress and during that time, it might feel like you’re going out of your mind trying to keep your dog from scratching.

Unknown Cause

The originating cause is not clear.


If the veterinarian is certain that it’s nothing more serious, he/she will likely suggest a wait-and-see approach.  They know that the tumor will begin to regress within a few months.  By waiting, you don’t encounter unnecessary expense and your dog doesn’t have to risk complications from surgery.

However, if the tumor grows and doesn’t appear to be shrinking in the given time frame, surgery might be required.


To diagnosis histiocytoma in dogs, the veterinarian may want to do blood tests, urinalysis, and possibly aspirate the tumor to get a closer look under a microscope.  Practices vary from clinic to clinic.

Natural Treatment

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

People talk a lot about using apple cider vinegar on the tumor to help shrink it; however, you have to ask yourself if the apple cider vinegar is responsible, or if it’s just simply time that’s taking care of it.  In my opinion, I suspect time is the real cure-all.

My guess is that the veterinarian would prefer you leave the tumor alone. The more you touch it, the more irritated it becomes.  That said, I highly suggest talking to your veterinarian about any over-the-counter supplements or herbal remedies you would like to try.

  • Castor Oil

I’ve also read that some people also use castor oil as a faster remedy. Interestingly, castor oil is recognized as a healing agent and is used in a variety of skin treatments.  Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get your veterinarian’s approval before administering this.

  • Golden Paste

Even natural treatments can cause problems under some conditions.  That includes “golden paste”, a homemade concoction made with ground turmeric, water, coconut oil and black pepper.  I’m a firm believer in checking with the professionals before aggravating any wound or tumor, so always check with your veterinarian first!

Please remember that I am not a veterinarian.  This post is not meant to substitute a visit to the veterinarian’s office.

Histiocytic Diseases are Divided Into Three Categories Including:

  • Nonmalignant Nonneoplastic (meaning there is no cancerous tumor)
  • Nonmalignant Neoplastic (non cancerous tumor)
  • Malignant Neoplastic (cancerous tumor)

Nonmalignant Nonneoplastic (Benign)

Within this category, you will find:

  • Reactive Cutaneous Histiocytosis
  • Reactive Systemic Histiocytosis

The cutaneous version of the disease can show up anywhere on the body and are not itchy.  There may be multiple nodules but they are not painful.

The systemic version of this reacts very similarly, but can also affect the organs other than the skin.

Nonmalignant Neoplastic (Benign)

  • Cutaneous Histiocytoma (benign – non cancerous)

This is the type of tumor this post is about and all of the information about it is in the paragraphs above.

Malignant Neoplastic (Cancer)

  • Localized Histiocytic Sarcoma (cancerous and spreading tumor)

Prognosis for this is very poor because by the time you see a tumor on the skin, the cancer has most likely already spread.

To Lessen Confusion:  Look at the prefix for the histio diseases.  Those ending in cytoma are benign and those ending in cytic have the potential to be cancerous.

Malignant Histiocytosis

This is a rare hereditary disease found in Bernese Mountain dogs. In this disease, the liver, spleen, and central nervous system can be affected.  The disease moves quickly and is, ultimately, fatal.  It is considered a disorder of the mononuclear phagocyte system.

 Mast Cell Tumors Versus Histiocytoma in Dogs

Mast cell tumors are concerning if they are not caught early.  They occur within the cells of the connective tissue and will eventually metastasize to other organs.  Histiocytomas also originate within cells but are not cancerous.

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Glaucoma in Dogs – Your Complete E-Guide

Glaucoma in dogs is a painful condition caused by increased pressure (intraocular pressure – IOP) inside the eye. To best understand glaucoma in dogs, you really need to know more about your dog’s eye anatomy. Don’t worry. I won’t bore you to tears (pun intended).

There are 3 categories of canine glaucoma including primary, secondary (most common), and congenital. Unlike the type of glaucoma you or I might get, canine glaucoma is much more likely to cause blindness. By the time you’re finished reading this post, you’ll understand why.

Disclaimer:  I am not a veterinarian so please don’t take my word for anything related to your dog’s health. Always consult with a licensed professional. Please read my disclaimer and privacy policies.

Affiliate links may be present in this post. All it means is that if you click on a link, I get paid a small amount of money at no extra cost to you.

Let’s take a look inside your dog’s eyeball:


Glaucoma in Dogs – The Ciliary Body

The ciliary body plays an important role because it:

  • • produces the fluid that keeps the shape of the eye (if it didn’t, you’d have a deflated eyeball)
    • provides vital nutrients and oxygen through the fluid it produces (known as aqueous humor)
    • suspends the eye’s lens in place

The image over here makes it a little easier to picture.


Glaucoma in dogs - Your Complete eGuide










In a healthy eye, the liquid drains back into the dog’s system through an opening between the cornea and the iris. The ciliary body does its own thing within the eye itself, working hard to maintain a healthy equilibrium.

Still can’t picture it?

Imagine overfilling a water balloon. The balloon is going to get larger and larger, creating pressure and compromising the balloon’s integrity. The same thing happens to the dog’s eye when normal drainage cannot take place.

This strain and pressure within the eye can eventually damage the optic nerve (and ganglion cells), causing blindness. Systemically, it’s thought that the increased intra-ocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, which then results in a loss of retinal ganglion cells.


Retinal Ganglion Cells

These cells (neurons) transmit image-forming and non-image forming communication between the retina and the brain. Each ganglion cell receives visual information from photo receptors.

I’m just going to come out and say that I don’t totally understand all of the complicated workings of each ganglion cell. As I mentioned above, I’m not a veterinarian. From what I can gather, however, these cells are an important part of the informational highway to the brain. They manage pupil function and transmit visual information.


Glaucoma in Dogs - Your Complete E-Guide

Wouldn’t it be great if a pair of glasses was all it took to cure glaucoma in dogs?









Intra-ocular Pressure (IOP)

Both the optic nerve and retinal ganglion cells are damaged by the intra-ocular pressure of glaucoma in dogs. The damage caused typically results in partial or complete blindness.


Normal IOP in Dogs

Normal pressure in dogs ranges between 10 and 20 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). Pressures ranging between 30 and even 50 mmHg has been represented in dogs with glaucoma.



2016 STUDY:

An article written by Paul E. Miller, DVM, and Ellison Bentley, DVM, (published November, 2015, in Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice) reports that damage to the optical nerve or associated tissues can actually begin long before intra-ocular pressure (IOP) increases. The significance is that glaucoma in dogs isn’t all about pressure damaging the optic nerve. It might be one characteristic of the disease, but it’s not necessarily the whole picture.


Have a look at this short video from a woman who adopted a blind dog.  It’s sweet!



Primary and Secondary Glaucoma in Dogs

  • Primary Glaucoma

Primary glaucoma in dogs is thought to be an inherited condition in which fluid does not drain normally. It’s typically seen in specific breeds (listed below) between the ages of 5 and 6 years, or in much older dogs. This type of glaucoma in dogs is usually caused by what’s known as “closed angle” glaucoma; however, (rarely) it can also be caused by open angle glaucoma.

Scroll down further for descriptions of open and closed angle glaucoma.

Acute primary glaucoma can come on suddenly. What that happens, it is considered a medical emergency. If the eye isn’t treated immediately, loss of vision is likely.


Since primary glaucoma is considered genetic, there’s a strong likelihood that both eyes will be affected by the disease. There is no cure for glaucoma in dogs. Medical treatment involves reducing the pain caused by increased pressure in the eye. It’s also important to follow protocol in maintaining the health of the other eye for as long as possible. More information below.


  • Primary Closed Angle Glaucoma in Dogs (most common of the primary glaucoma type)

There are a lot of complicated medical terms to describe this process, but – essentially – the drainage angle becomes blocked by the iris. Primary glaucoma is caused by genetic defects that affect the eye. Once the fluid is trapped inside, pressure (inter-ocular pressure or IOP) builds quickly within the eye. Veterinarians refer to this as “acute glaucoma”, which is a medical emergency.

When this happens, there is a very high chance that your dog will go blind in the affected eye.
If you’re up for some serious medical jargon, check out this article at Veterinarian Medical Center of Long Island website.


  • Primary Open Angle Glaucoma in Dogs (least common)

This type is considered a genetic mutation causing the build-up of pressure within the eye. The condition prevents the fluid (aqueous humor) produced by the ciliary body from draining naturally. As a result, death occurs within the ganglion cells.  As mentioned above, this isn’t particularly common, especially if breeders are carefully selecting dogs based on accurate DNA testing.

As promised, here is a list of dog breeds at risk of genetically acquired glaucoma:



Cocker Spaniel
Basset Hound
Chow Chow
Shar Pei
Jack Russell Terrier
Shi Tzu
Norweigan Elkhound
Alaskan Malamute
English Cocker Spaniel
American Cocker Spaniel
English Springer Spaniel
Flat Coated Retrievers
Giant Shnauzer
Boston Terrier
Siberian Husky
Smooth-haired Fox Terrier
Bull Mastiff
Italian Greyhound
Welsh Springer
Miniature Pinscher
Wire-haired Fox Terrier

Please note that in the list of breeds above, some dogs are more prone to glaucoma than others. It doesn’t mean that every dog in the list will get glaucoma.


You might also be interested in reading Wisdom Dog DNA Tests vs Embark Dog DNA Tests 2018



This particular type of glaucoma works the same way, in that there is increased pressure within the eye. The causes, however, are typically due to disease (cancer, for example) or eye injuries.

  • • Uveutis

This is the medical term for the inflammation of the eye’s interior. Debris and scar tissue end up blocking the drainage angle in this case.

  • • Tumors/Cancer

If tumors are present within the eye, they can cause blockage of the drainage angle.

  • • Dislocation of the Lens

In this situation, the lens actually tips forward and blocks the drainage angle. This is another scenario in which fluid keeps going in, but has no way of getting out.

  • • Blood Clot

This is known as intra-ocular bleeding in which a blood clot blocks the drainage area.

  • • Lens Injury

If the dog’s eye is seriously damaged, the lens proteins begin leaking into the eye. This creates an inflammatory condition. The swelling then blocks the drainage angle.


The Difficulty Associated with Early Diagnosis

It can be difficult to notice early signs of glaucoma in dogs. Unless it’s acute, the disease can progress slowly and the symptoms noticed can be passed off as a condition of ageing.  Your dog obviously can’t tell you about the pain, and unless he/she actually has a bulging eye or is really rubbing the area, you could easily miss the signs.


Secondary glaucoma in dogs is usually associated with increasing age.


The most common signs of glaucoma in dogs are:

  • Eye pain

Some dogs do a pretty good job of hiding discomfort and others might begin pawing at the area immediately. If your dog moves his/her head away from you when you try to get close, or appears to be guarding or protecting the face, have it checked out by a licensed veterinarian!

  • Eye discharge

My golden retriever seems to have naturally watery eyes that causes a dark stain on her fur. If there were a problem with her eye, the discharge would increase and become much more obvious. Along with this, your dog might seem “down” or have the blues. Remember, glaucoma in dogs is a painful condition.

  • Off-Color

Take a second to look into your dog’s eyes. Do the corneas look grey, colorless, or even blue-tinged? If so, get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Swelling

This is going to be pretty noticeable. As the disease advances, you’re going to see one, or both, of your dog’s eyes bulging. It might not be a lot, but you’ll notice a difference.

Other signs include:

  • • Blinking a lot.
  • • Reddened blood vessels
  • • Dilated pupil
  • • Pupil that doesn’t respond to light
  • • Partial or complete blindness in one eye.


Making the Diagnosis of Glaucoma in Dogs

Veterinarians have a variety of tools used in the diagnosis of glaucoma in dogs.

  • Tonometer

A tonometer is an instrument that measures pressure within the dog’s eye to determine the presence of glaucoma. This can be done without the use of anesthesia. To do the test, the veterinary ophthalmologist places a device on the eye to measure the amount of pressure.

  •  Gonioscopy

In this case, a special contact lens-like prism is placed on the eye to evaluate how the internal drainage system is working. In particular, this device is able to see how well the anterior chamber angle is performing.

Of course, the veterinarian will do a simple physical examination as well. This involves looking at the eyes for signs of redness, inflammation, eye discoloration, and a test for vision.


Treatment Options for Glaucoma in Dogs

Here’s where things really get tricky. Once the veterinarian has diagnosed glaucoma (whether primary or secondary), the first thing that needs to be done is to remove pressure ASAP. The quicker pressure is released, the less damage is done to the optic nerve. In addition, the release of pressure reduces pain.

Note: Opening the drain and keeping it open in animals is difficult and costly. Most people opt for medicine that helps reduce the fluid build-up.

Surgical removal of the eye (called enucleation) is typically reserved for end-stage glaucoma where blindness has occurred or is imminent.

There are several treatment options. The problem is the expense, commitment to lifelong treatment, and the fact that eventually, even the good eye will succumb. Eventual blindness is almost guaranteed.


 Treatment options include:

  1. medicated eye drops
  2. stress management
  3. change to using a harness rather than a neck collar
  4. surgery to remove the eye

Medicated Eye Drops

Glaucoma eye drops and pills are expensive and are usually used to preserve sight in the unaffected eye for as long as possible. They are also used temporarily in dogs waiting for surgery.


Complementary and Alternative Medicine

This involves using lifetime therapies using canine antioxidant vision supplements. There are a variety of available supplements (ask your veterinarian for a recommendation). These supplements typically contain:

• amino acids
• vitamins
• lutein
• Omega 3 fatty acids
• lycopene
• and other combinations of antioxidants

If the dog has gone completely blind in that eye, you still have a few options. Some people prefer to have the eye removed and the area stitched. It’s important to understand that regardless of whether the dog has vision or not, that eye is still going to cause pressure and intense pain.


Other Medical Treatment Options include:

  • -artificial lens and a drainage device (not normally done because of the high price and complication of the procedure)
  • -insert an implant into the eye socket then stitch the lids shut. This helps to maintain the shape of the eye socket so that the dog doesn’t wind up with a sunken look.
  • -injection of a drug into the eye socket. This drug is designed to kill the fluid-producing cells. Doing this helps to keep the overall pressure down which would reduce the dog’s pain.
  • -Laser surgery is done only when the surgeon believes there is a reasonably strong chance that the dog will have vision in that eye for a while.
  • -remove the eye and replace with a black ball that serves as a device to keep the eye socket in shape and remove the chance of a sunken in appearance later on.
  • -The blind eye is replaced with a colorless ball that makes it look as if the dog still has a working eye. REMEMBER: You can’t leave the blind eye in the socket because the pressure is still going to be there. That pressure causes significant pain.

Glaucoma in dogs is a long-term, painful, and expensive condition. As long as the dog lives, he/she will require antioxidant vision supplements to slow down the progress of the other eye, frequent intra-ocular pressure measurements, and topical or oral medications to help lower fluid production.


Types of Medication Used for Glaucoma in Dogs


These drugs work by drawing fluid from the eye.

• B-Blockers

Beta Blockers help by reducing blood pressure.

• Carbonic Anhydrase Inhibitors

This class of drug works by decreased the production of fluid from the ciliary body. If you’ll remember from earlier, this fluid is called aqueous humor.


Cholinergics (Miotics) work by reducing eye pressure. To do this, the drug supports increased drainage of intraocular fluid.


This eye drop is used for open angled glaucoma and works by increased the outflow of fluid from the eye.


SURGERY – When blindness is inevitable

When or if your dog loses his/her sight, you will have even bigger decisions to make. 


  • Cyclodestruction

This type of surgery generally utilizes a laser to reduce the production of aqueous humor. Unfortunately, this type of surgery (because it is non-invasive) isn’t able to determine exactly how much the ciliary body has been destroyed. A lens implant is usually required post-surgery in order to prevent cataracts from forming later on.


  • Surgery to Increase Aqueous Humor Outflow

Shunts can be used through an implant and tubing that permits the fluid to drain effectively from the anterior chamber. This is a difficult procedure not proven to affect a positive long-term outcome. There are several possible complications associated with this surgery as well.


  • Enucleation

Depending on financial status and the type of aesthetic outcome desired, people generally choose this option because of it is effective and much less expensive. Essentially, this involves removing the eyeball. A prosthesis can be inserted to improve the appearance and, by removing the eye, your dog is relieved of pain.


  • Intrascleral Prosthesis

A silicon ball is inserted within the eye resulting in a better appearance and few complications. It’s thought to have a 95% success rate.

  • Chemical Ablation

An injection of gentamicin (antibiotic) and dexamethasone (corticosteroid) is inserted directly into the ciliary body. Complications could include eye inflammation and retinal detachment.


When It’s NOT Canine Glaucoma


Nuclear Sclerosis

Nuclear sclerosis is a common condition in ageing dogs that does not affect vision and does not require treatment. It’s different from cataracts. Cataracts occur behind the lens and block the veterinarian’s view of the retina.

The bottom line is that if you notice redness and some discoloration in your dog’s eyes, it doesn’t necessarily mean he/she has glaucoma. Glaucoma is very painful, can come on very quickly (acute) in which case it is imperative to seek veterinarian attention. He/she will want to reduce that fluid build-up ASAP.

Under normal circumstances, your dog’s eyes can become irritated or infected from any number of things. In most of these cases, medicated drops work well. Mild infections and irritations are not going to threaten your dog’s vision. In rare cases where you totally ignore what’s happening and the infection gets worse…you’ll have a problem. But who does that?


Dogs DO Adjust to Vision Loss

People are surprised to learn that dogs bounce back very quickly. Partial or even total blindness can be overcome with a little patience and preparation around the house.

-Enable sound cues
-tactile cues
-scent cues
-lots of talk direction
-maintain routine
-create awareness so that other people treat the dog accordingly
-close off any danger zones (for example, stairs with baby gate)


DID YOU KNOW? Dogs have about 300 million scent receptors compared to our 6 million?

MYTH: Blindness does not cause other senses to become heightened. The disabled dog (or person) has to rely on the other senses for survival and, therefore, pay particular attention to those senses more. It doesn’t mean that they have become heightened in any way.


11 Side-Effects of the Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

Mention the side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs within a crowd, and you’ll immediately divide the group into those for it, and those against it. It’s easy to worry about the side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs when all you can find are sensationalized stories.

If you’ve ever had the flu shot, you might know what it feels like to end up with a lump where the injection was given. My arm hurts for a day or two after a vaccination, but it clears up pretty fast. 

It’s pretty much the same for dogs.  There’s a good chance your dog will experience mild side-effects and – yes – rarely, serious side-effects occur. Now, I’m going to show you the most common side-effects and a little on the more severe problems that can occur.


Common Side-Effects of the Rabies Vaccine in Dogs

The first 8 side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs include:

1.Discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site.

It makes sense! Vaccinations are normally given as injections and whenever you stick a needle through the skin, it’s going to get a little aggravated. This is temporary and is not harmful at all. 

The poor dog in the next image looks a little put-out but none worse for wear after a rabies vaccination.  



2. Mild Fever.

Mild fevers are common side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs.  Although vaccines do not contain  live disease, they do create a temporary immune-response that tells the dog’s body, “Hey, let’s get busy fighting this new thing.”

As a result, the dog’s antibodies increase and the body learns how to fight the disease. That’s why we vaccinate, so dogs (and people) develop an immunity to dangerous viruses.


3. Nope – Not Hungry Mom.

Because of the sudden reaction of antibodies to “get to work”, the body slows down other functions including the desire to eat. Dog’s bodies are no less phenomenal than our own.  Their systems know when to settle down so that the other important things happening can take effect.  It doesn’t take long, however, for your pooch to resume treat-begging.  Poor appetite is one of the side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs that you can expect for a short period of time.


4. No Playing Ball Today!

Of course, you’d be worried if your dog suddenly decided he didn’t want to do his favorite activity! However, if your dog just had a rabies vaccination, there’s nothing to worry about. Let him sleep it off! By the next morning, you’re going to see a big difference in his/her energy. This is a common occurrence.


5. Mom! I’m All Dubbed Up!

Other common side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs include symptoms that resemble the common cold. Your dog might start sneezing, develop a mild cough, or even have a runny nose. Don’t forget this one because it could take up to 5 days for these types of symptoms to appear. By then, you might have forgotten all about the vaccine!  Don’t worry. These side-effects are not serious and will go away quickly.


A deranged animal foaming at the mouth? Take a second and watch this highly informative video!


6. Hard Lump Under the Skin

Needles hurt a little bit and, because they pierce the skin, often develop a little swelling at the site of the injection  This is one of a few minor side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs. It’s nothing to be alarmed about.  However, if you suspect your dog might be experiencing more severe side-effects, please don’t hesitate and get your dog to the veterinarian.


7. Vomiting Over and Over and Over Again.

This is one of the more severe side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs. If your dog starts vomiting frequently after a rabies vaccination (or any vaccination), bring him/her to the vet.


8. Your Dog Can’t Stop Itching!

We’ve all seen dogs writhe around on their backs, blissfully getting that itchy spot. The difference with this is that the dog will become frantically itchy. His/her skin will develop hives on the skin.


9. Face, neck or eye swelling.

If you’ve ever seen anybody suffer from anaphylaxis because of a peanut allergy or a bee sting, you’ll have a pretty good idea what this looks like. If you notice any facial swelling after a vaccination, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to the veterinarian. This can be treated, but it can’t be ignored. Ever seen anybody suffer from anaphylaxis because of a peanut allergy or a bee sting, you’ll have a pretty good idea what this looks like. If you notice any facial swelling after a vaccination, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to the veterinarian. This can be treated, but it can’t be ignored.


10. Severe coughing.

Severe cough is one of those rare side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs.  You might notice a slight cough along with other respiratory symptoms (sneezing, runny nose) up to 5 days post-vaccination. However, if the coughing becomes aggressive, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for evaluation.


11. Difficulty breathing.

If your dog is having difficulty breathing, you’ll see it in the rise and fall of his/her chest cavity. Your dog will be distressed and might paw at his/her mouth. As your dog tries to take in more oxygen, it might sound like he/she is coughing. This could go hand-in-hand with the symptom above.

The bottom line is that vaccinations in people and dogs are considered safe. Yes, there will always be some sort of risk when injecting medications into our bodies. That said, diseases like rabies are absolutely fatal and the risk of the vaccination far outweighs the deadly disease.

“Vaccination is a barbarous practice and one of the most fatal of all the delusions current in our time.


Conscientious objectors to vaccination should stand alone, if need be, against the whole world, in defense of their conviction.
Mahatma Gandhi

The Anti-Vaxxers Are Wrong!

Unfortunately, there is an entire social community with an anti-vaccine agenda. That’s one of the perks of living in a developed country. The reason we’re not dying from previously fatal and infectious disease is that vaccinations have eradicated them.  In some cases, you can decide which vaccines your dog receives. The rabies vaccine, however, is the law.  Common side-effects of the rabies vaccine in dogs will come and go quickly. They will not cause any harm to your dog in the long run.

A few of the myths about vaccinations include:


  • vaccinations use live-cultures that cause disease

None of the vaccinations approved for use in Canada and the United States use live cultures in their products.


  • vaccinations are full of harmful, toxic substances

Technically, there are some substances that – in clinically significant doses – might pose a threat. The reality is that things like Thimerosol (which is 50% mercury) makes up what amounts to the amount of mercury in a 3 ounce can of tuna. You’re not afraid of a little tuna, are you?


  • vaccinations weaken the immune system

Weakening the immune system, in the clinical sense, consists of a long-term condition that leaves your dog vulnerable to a host of infectious disease and bacteria.  When a dog has a vaccine, his/her immune system builds antibodies that learn to fight deadly disease. Your dog might appear mildly sick (cold symptoms), but it isn’t from a “weakened immune system”.


Rabies is Fatal in Human Beings

If you’re thinking about not having your dog vaccinated, consider this:

Rabies vaccination of dogs is required by law in most states. In Canada, the rabies vaccination is only required in Ontario. That said, all ethical veterinarians will encourage the vaccination, especially in populations at greater risk. That population would include dogs that are more likely to encounter wildlife (rural areas).

Try out the lifestyle-based vaccine calculator. It was created by the AAHA and should give you a clearer picture of what you should do.


The smartest thing you can do for your dog is to not listen to the rhetoric. Get solid facts from your veterinarian, or online through reputable sites.

Your Complete Guide to Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

As a dog owner, I know how hard it is to find fast information on the things I worry about the most. If my dog were diagnosed with diabetes, I would want to know two things: what is a diabetic dog life expectancy, and what will my dog’s quality of life be.

The Complicated Answers of Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

The answer to your question about life expectancy relies on two factors:

  • Catching the disease early
  • Commitment to lifelong treatment and care.

I’m going to give you the answers to both of these questions, and so much more. This article will give you a sound understanding of the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of canine diabetes.  In fact, there are actually two answers to the question of diabetic dog life expectancy, and I am going to explain both answers in detail.

Identifying Dogs At Risk of Developing Diabetes

Dogs considered “at risk” of developing diabetes mellitus are generally:

  • Over-weight
  • Have an overall poor diet
  • Don’t get enough exercise

If diabetes is caught early, dog diabetes life expectancy prognosis is very good. In fact, the prognosis is considered excellent for early diagnosis. However, the long-term expectation is owner-compliance with treatment and regular follow-up care.

In order to do that, you will need to bring your dog for regular screening. Maintain regularly scheduled check-ups before signs and symptoms become obvious.

Regularly Scheduled Check-ups Could Mean the Difference in Quality of Life and Overall Life Expectancy

I’d be wrong to suggest that regular check-ups aren’t important, but I understanding why it’s not always done.  Unless your dog has other conditions that make it necessary, you might not be in the habit of bringing your dog in until you strongly suspect there’s a problem.

I get it!  I do the same thing.  Except now, I look at my dog and worry that she has all of the following risk factors of developing diabetes:

  • She’s overweight
  • She doesn’t get nearly as much as exercise as she should
  • She’s not old…but at seven, she’s not a puppy either.

The truth is, if you can nab diabetes in the early stages of the disease, your dog will likely go on to lead a full and happy life. On the flip side, ignored signs and symptoms will likely lead to organ damage and a shortened lifespan.

What To Look For Before Diabetes Takes Over Your Dog’s Health

The early-warning signs of diabetes that you don’t want to miss include:

  • frequent urination
  • excessive thirst
  • excessive appetite
  • sudden, unexplained weight loss.

Denial is a wonderful way to protect ourselves from a painful truth. -LATheriault

Unfortunately, there comes a time when the facts outweigh the fantasy. I’ve done it myself. You see your dog every day, and it’s easy to “not see” the subtle signs. This is when it’s time to realistically assess diabetic dog life expectancy.

Personally, I know that it’s time to bring my dog for a check-up. I can’t explain it, but something isn’t just right. I’m sure you understand. We work, have families, obligations, and other responsibilities. The truth is, we owe it to our dogs (our faithful companions) to give them the attention and care they deserve.

View the Twitter link below for current updates on breed specific diabetes.

As shown in the twitter link above, there are certain breeds susceptible to canine diabetes.

Advanced Signs of Diabetes – Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

  • personality change
  • excessive panting
  • drastic change in appetite
  • sudden weight loss
  • fatigue
  • dehydration
  • urinary tract infections
  • fruity-smelling breath (ketoacidosis)

The Damaging Ocular Effects of Diabetes in Dogs

There is a similarity between dogs and humans with diabetes. Permanent organ damage can occur if diabetes is not treated.

However, the big difference is in the amount of time it takes these detrimental effects to take place.  If I had diabetes, it would take 10 to 20 years to develop serious eye complications. It only takes 12 to 18 months, however, for a dog to develop similar issues.

Diabetic Retinopathy – Vascular Disease

Dogs with diabetes have the potential to also known as diabetic eye disease”.  Consistently high blood sugar damages blood vessels within the body, particularly in the eye.

Four Stages of Diabetic Retinopathy:


Detected through an ocular exam that identifies swelling within the blood vessels of the eye.


Blood vessels become blocked.

Severe Nonprolific

An increase in blocked blood vessels leads to blocked blood flow to parts of the retina.


New, but weakened, blood vessels grow back but will leak blood causing vision loss.

The image below is an example of what cataracts will look like in your dog. Notice that bluish, cloudy area in the center of the eye. 


The eye lens contains water and protein. As we age, those proteins sometimes clump together and get hard over time.  Vision loss occurs when these proteins harden and spread.  Dogs have similar risk-factors for cataracts, especially in a dog diagnosed with diabetes.

Just because your dog has cataracts doesn’t mean he/she also has diabetes. However, if your dog has diabetes, there’s a high chance he/she will develop cataracts. The main sign that your dog has cataracts is a cloudy, bluish tinge to the eye. Your dog will show signs of vision loss as the cataracts 


Uveitis is a painful inflammation of the middle eye layer. Dogs have three eye layers including the outer layer (cornea), the innermost layer (retina), and the uvea which is the middle layer. This layer consists of blood vessels and inflammation of this part can lead to blindness.

If your dog has uveitis, he may squint a lot. The eyes will be red and the pupil might look unusually shaped. There will likely be tearing and possibly discharge coming from the eye.

Retinal Lesions

After extended swelling of the eye, retinal lesions (small tears) can lead to retinal detachment.

A Case Study in Considering Diabetic Dog Life Expectancy

An abstract cited by I.P. Herring from The Journal of Veterinary Medicine reported how 17 client-owned dogs were monitored. Each dog had been diagnosed with diabetes less than a year earlier.

The dogs were evaluated once every six months for a total of two years. During that time, each dog was tested for:

  • blood pressure
  • urine albumin (a protein found in the blood, but not normally in the urine)
  • protein and creatinine concentrations (elevated creatinine concentrations signify kidney damage)
  • serial blood glucose (the amount of sugar in the blood)
  • serum fructosamine concentrations (high concentrations indicate the long-term elevation of blood sugar which helps determine disease progression)

Results of the study

73% of the dogs showed moderately high levels of albumen (called microalbuminuria), and 55% showed an elevated urine protein:creatinine ratio.

It’s interesting to note that only 20% of the dogs showed signs of retinopathy (vascular disease of the eye). The study did not include dogs with cataracts.  Therefore, it is possible that the number of dogs with retinopathy was greater than originally thought.

Early diagnosis is the key to a good diabetic dog life expectancy prognosis.

Diabetes Mellitus Since The Age of The Egyptians

Diabetes goes as far back as the Egyptians (at least). A translated manuscript describes a condition similar to Type 1 diabetes where people suffered from “great emptying of the urine”. That clinical description is significant with symptoms of diabetes.

The word “madhumeha” translates to “honey urine”, a term coined in the fifth century by Indian physicians.  The term signifies the presence of glycosuria in diabetic patients.

Non-healing wounds are treated immediately due to the risk of gangrene.  The first physician to describe gangrene as a complication of diabetes was Avicenna, a Persian polymath (meaning a person with a wide range of knowledge).

The 4 Types of Diabetes in Dogs

There is a difference between diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. Diabetes Insipidus is an uncommon disease caused by the kidneys’ inability to regulate fluid in the body. In addition, it’s important to recognize other types of diabetes that can affect dogs.

Diabetes Mellitus

A condition where the pancreas cannot create enough insulin to battle the excess of sugar in the blood. Insulin is a naturally-occurring hormone that helps the body use food for energy. Consider insulin the “helper”. In a healthy body, insulin helps sugar get into blood cells. When this happens, the body is able to convert that sugar into energy. Without insulin, the sugar has nowhere to go and builds up in the blood.

Diabetes insipidus

Caused by the body’s inability to use a hormone called vasopressin, or antidiuretic hormone. This is a rare condition not seen in dogs. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are classifications to describe human variations of the disease. In Type 1, the pancreas stops producing insulin. In Type 2, the body continues to produce insulin, but the body’s cells can’t respond to it. It’s rare for a dog to have diabetes insipidus.

Transient Diabetes

Occurs when the early-warning signs of diabetes in dogs occur and then disappear. The problem with this is that, if forgotten, diabetes can return and remain initially undetected. As stated earlier, early diagnosis is key to maintaining your dog’s quality of life and life expectancy.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and resolves afterward.  Pregnant dogs can develop gestational diabetes.

The Increase in Canine Diabetes

Canine diabetes is on the rise for a few reasons:

  • Canine obesity
  • Lack of proper exercise
  • Poor nutrition

Unfortunately, it’s often with regretful hindsight that we identify these risk factors. Ideally, changes to diet and exercise occur before diabetes has a chance to develop.  A low fat/high fiber diet is beneficial for dogs with diabetes. This type of diet is thought to reduce the amount of insulin a dog needs.

Obesity is not only linked to diabetes, but can cause arthritis and other health problems for our dogs, and ourselves.

Dogs Become Obese For Different Reasons, Including:

  • Eating too many calories
  • Owner not feeding properly
  • Not following canine feeding guidelines
  • Free feeding (keeping the bowl full at all times)
  • Too many snacks, treats, and human foods
  • Reduced activity level
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Spay/neuter

Health Risks of Obesity Above and Beyond Diabetes

In addition to diabetes, obese dogs are at a higher risk of developing:

  • hypertension
  • osteoarthritis
  • skin conditions like
  • pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
  • breathing problems
  • heart problems
  • shorter life expectancy

Quality of Life Reality for YOU and Your Dog

Diabetic dog life expectancy depends on the stage of the disease. As an owner of a dog with diabetes, the onus will be on you to provide:

  • A completely new, doctor prescribed diet.
  • Severe reduction in the number of treats, snacks, and human food given to the dog.
  • Maintaining regular checkups with the veterinarian
  • Administering insulin injections on a timely basis.

There are so many things you take for granted when treating a dog with diabetes. Although the 2018 American Animal Hospital Association Diabetes Management Guidelines suggest a 2-hour difference before or after the scheduled dosage is acceptable, what happens if it’s more?

Many dog owners work for a living. That means your dog might be home alone for 8 hours or more per day. In order to adequately treat and care for a dog with diabetes, that has to change. Someone has to be around to administer the medication. In addition, whether you work or not, it’s imperative that your dog gets adequate exercise on a daily basis.

We’re happy to hear that an early diagnosis of diabetes can mean a full and happy life for our dogs, but the reality is that will only happen as a result of human due-diligence.

The following Twitter video feed describes canine diabetic cataracts.

The American Animal Hospital Association 2018 Diabetes Management Guidelines

The following is a snapshot of recent AAHA updates to the Diabetes Management Guidelines. Changes include original content from 2010 along with new guidelines. Veterinary professionals were part of this task force.

Points taken from the guidelines reflect directly on the likelihood of a dog owner being able to consistently monitor and care for a diabetic dog. Likewise, the report identified the most common medications prescribed for canine diabetes, along with dosing recommendations.

Types of Insulin Used in Dogs with Diabetes


Vetsulin (Merk Animal Health)  is approved for use in dogs and cats. Lente is an intermediate-acting drug, meaning it doesn’t work right away, and it doesn’t last as long in the dog’s system.  The lowest concentrations of the drug can be found in the dog’s body from 1 to 10 hours and the total duration of the drug is up to 24 hours.


Lente is administered by injection pen in 0.5 units or 1 unit increments.


A diabetic dog’s life expectancy hinges on the proper treatment, including proper and timely administration of insulin.

This particular product is most often used in cats with diabetes, not dogs.


PZI is another recombinant DNA insulin commonly used in humans. The FDA has not officially approved the use of this drug in dogs. It has, however, been approved for use in cats.

This long-acting drug, known by the brand name Prozinc, is commonly used in cats for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. 

This brand of insulin is occasionally used in dogs, although it has not been approved.  Generally, a starting dose of 0.25 units/kilogram is used. Dogs with difficult-to-control diabetic symptoms are given a higher dose.


NPH is another intermediate acting drug which, again, means that it doesn’t work immediately. Although not officially approved for use in dogs, options for treatment include a starting dose of 0.25 units/kilogram taken once every 12 hours.

Veterinarians who prescribe NPH should be using the lowest starting dose for a large dog and the higher dose for a smaller dog.

Adjusting Insulin Dosages for Dogs

When dogs first begin insulin therapy, it can take a while to reach that perfect dose. Dosages are calculated on units per kilogram, with the lowest starting dose first.

During this phase, dogs are normally hospitalized for one or two days in order to begin insulin therapy under close surveillance. During this time, blood sugar levels are recorded at the time that insulin is administered. Approximately 3, 6, and 9 hours later, blood sugar levels are retested.

Insulin Sensitivity

Unfortunately, some dogs are sensitive to insulin and there’s no way of knowing how your dog will react until he/she is on the drug. In the 24 to 48-hour interval of hospitalization, doctors try to determine how much is too much, and how much insulin is not enough. The trick is to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

When hypoglycemia occurs, insulin is decreased. If the dog is experiencing hyperglycemia, a minor insulin adjustment is conducted. However, the goal during this initial phase of treatment is to:

  • reverse the metabolic damages caused by the disease
  • instruct the owner on insulin management and diet control for the dog
  • provide the owner time to get used to treating the dog at home.

NOTE: The treatment plan prescribed by the veterinarian is crucial when it comes to diabetic dog life expectancy.

How Will I Manage This New Schedule When I Get Home?

I’m not going to lie. Adjusting to a totally new routine that revolves around the health of your dog is going to be a big adjustment. 

In addition, you’re also going to need to look at an entirely new diet for your dog.  One of the key indicators to diabetic dog life expectancy is in the quality of food your dog gets, and the amount of healthy exercise.

To help you with that, I’ve included a dog-diabetic-friendly recipe, along with more tips on appropriate food choices for your dog.

MEAL FOR YOUR DIABETIC DOG *watch portion size and check with the veterinarian. Rice (carbs) might be okay in small amounts – but check with the doctor first!


  • 2 cups cooked brown rice.
  • 2 cups ground turkey
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 to 10,000 IU Vitamin A and B capsule
  • 1/8 tsp. iodized salt


Cook the turkey then add the oil from the capsules and mix well. Take all of the ingredients and mix together thoroughly. 

Good Food For Your Diabetic Dog

Following a diabetic friendly diet to your dogs is one of the top most important things you can do to build diabetic dog life expectancy.  Remember, as a diabetic, your dog cannot metabolize certain foods the same way that we can.

I give out too many treats, something I do as a sign of love. Now that I recognize that about myself, I’ve significantly reduced the number of treats I give to my dog.  I don’t want to be faced with the question of diabetic dog life expectancy. But, if it does happen, I know there are valuable ways to extend her life and improve her overall health.

Instead of giving my dog so many treats now, I get on the floor and spend a little time with my dog.  It’s still not the same as a treat, but I also feel as if I’m giving her the love she deserves.

The following is a list of foods your dog (all dogs) should not eat.

  • Raisins
  • Onions
  • Wheat gluten
  • Cornmeal
  • Canned food
  • fatty organ meat/skin
  • White rice
  • Chocolate
  • Wheat flour
  • Garlic
  • Baked doggy treats
  • Grapes
  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners  NOTE:  XYLITOL IS POISONOUS FOR YOUR DOG. Do not feed your dog anything with artificial sweeteners to be safe.

Buying Dog Food Brands

In my opinion, the only person you should depend on for diabetic dog food advice is the veterinarian.  Some pet supply stores have staff who are knowledgeable about the products on the shelf, but they don’t know your dog.  Like humans, every dog is different.

If you are looking for less expensive dog meals, your veterinarian can suggest high-quality recipes, products, and may even have product samples if you ask.

When looking for dog food off-the-shelf, look for dog food that has been approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This organization is responsible for determining levels of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals in pet food.

How much food should you give?

Your veterinarian will give you strict guidelines on your dog’s food consumption based on your dog’s weight and advancement of diabetes. To give you an example of how human food translates into dog food consumption, I’ve included the chart below:

Partners for Healthy Pets published the following:

Snack (fed to a 20 lb. dog) / Human Caloric Equivalent

1 Small Cookie = 1 Hamburger
1 oz. Cheddar Cheese = 1½ Hamburgers
1 Hot Dog = 2½ Hamburgers

Everything is fine when the doctor is nearby, but what happens when you get home? Change is never easy.

You now have a complete package of information to push your dog toward a long, happy life.

Please take a second to share with family, friends, and other dog lovers like you.  Don’t forget to leave me a comment!  I love hearing from readers.  


The Fickle Phases of Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospirosis in dogs is caused by the spirochete bacteria. This bacteria infects dogs and humans. If not diagnosed early, the prognosis is dire.

Warmer weather means swimming, camping, hiking, and biking.  Tropical or subtropical climates present an increased risk of infection and disease from waterborne pathogens.

Studies show a global increase in cases of canine leptospirosis.  Perhaps it’s a sign of climate change.  We’ve all seen the devastating images of mass flooding on the news. Floodwater of that nature pulls in a wide variety of pathogens that thrive for a long time. It only takes one infected animal to contaminate an entire body of water.

Leptospirosis in dogs is transmitted when the dog:

  • drinks from infected urine
  • is in contact with other domestic animals who have it (through skin cuts, eyes, mouth)
  • drinks or swims in urine-contaminated water (floodwater, rivers, etc.)
  • interacts or lives in close proximity to infected livestock or wildlife

The bacteria lives up to six months in urine-contaminated water. Even the damp soil can harbor the bacteria. This creates a risk of infection through scratches, scrapes, open wounds, and mucous membranes.  Dogs can transmit the bacteria to humans. However, the number of reported cases is relatively low.

The Worst Sign of Infection is No Infection At All.

Early detection of leptospirosis in canines is treatable. The problem lies in the difficulty of diagnosis.  The most commonly seen patients are considered “clinically inapparent”.  That simply meaning the dog has no obvious symptoms.

In the beginning stages, the dog is lethargic and appears under-the-weather.  The reality is that most of the time, there really isn’t anything seriously wrong with the dog.  However, if you’ve been near floodwater recently or live in a susceptible area, ask the veterinarian to test for leptospirosis.   Better safe than sorry.

Once a diagnosis has been made, the veterinarian will assess whether the dog is in one of the four following categories:

  • per-acute
  • acute
  • sub-acute –  most common
  • chronic


In the acute and sub-acute stages of the disease, clinical signs are evident. Unfortunately, that could mean a grave progression in the disease. Renal failure and liver damage are the top two concerns.  If the dog has developed a cough, it’s likely the bacteria has compromised the lungs.

Watch the video below for a discussion on leptospirosis in dogs. Dr. Becker discusses the risks, signs, and symptoms.  Video embedded from YouTube:


Lyme Disease:  The “Second Cousin” of Leptospirosis

You might be surprised to learn that there as many as 230 types of leptospira bacteria and that eight of them are known to cause disease in dogs. The four strains that commonly result in canine infection are:

  • Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiea
  • L. canicola
  • L. grippotyphosa
  • L. pomona

The Borrelia burgdorferi strain of bacteria falls under the larger umbrella and is known to cause Lyme disease .

Leptospirosis Risk Map and Endemic Tick Population Map

The Fickle Phases of Leptospirosis

As frightening as the clinical signs and symptoms seem (see below), the reality is that many dogs present with vague symptoms that could be mistaken for any number of things.  The dog might lack energy, refuse to eat, vomit, or have diarrhea.  In fact, the dog might even appear to recover after a few days.  There’s relief in the eye of the hurricane, until you realize it’s back with a vengeance.

The second phase of leptospirosis erupts with fury, striking its victims with intense symptoms including:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anorexia – the dog will not/cannot eat
  • Vomiting – perhaps with blood
  • Painful Abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased urination
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • fever
  • severe pain in the joints
  • jaundice – often first seen as yellowing in the eyes
  • renal failure
  • liver failure
  • combined renal and liver failure associated with the infection is known as “Weil’s disease”

Eradicating The Disease Through Appropriate Vaccination

The days of many crippling or deadly infectious diseases are seemingly behind us now. The use of vaccines eradicated a host of once-feared diseases such as:

  • smallpox
  • polio
  • whooping cough
  • measles
  • tuberculosis
  • rabies

It’s been over 200 years since the first vaccine was discovered.  Immunization can be credited with saving approximately 9 million lives a year worldwide, and yet there remains skepticism from particular groups on the safety and necessity of inoculation.

There are roughly 100 – 150 outbreaks of leptospirosis in the United States every year.  Over 1 million cases happen globally with an average of 60,000 deaths.

CDC, “Leptospirosis Face Sheet for Clinicians”


American Animal Hospital Association Leptospirosis Vaccination Guidelines

The AAHA does not recommend that dogs be immunized for leptospirosis unless they live in a part of the world considered high-risk.  Avoiding absolutely unnecessary vaccinations eliminates the side-effect risk factors including:

  1. Facial swelling
  2. Hives
  3. Deadly anaphylactic shock

The controversy surrounding the vaccines offered before 2004 was heightened by the short-term gain stacked against the risks.  In 2004, a new vaccine released by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals was considered safer and longer lasting. The newer vaccines have essentially removed the unwanted “extras” from the formulation, resulting in fewer side-effects.

It’s suggested that dogs in at-risk areas should only be vaccinated against leptospirosis at 12 weeks of age.  That is considered the absolute minimum age, with an average age of inoculation between 14 and 16 weeks.

Dog Deaths Cause Controversy Over Vaccine

There have always been segments of the population against vaccinations.  The reality is that no vaccination can provide 100% protection, and the risks generally associated with inoculations (from mild to fatal) are considered a lesser worry than the proliferation of the disease itself.

The following video highlights fears and hysteria surrounding the leptospirosis vaccine. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s always worth debating both sides of the equation.

While the debate over the safety of vaccines continues around the world, leptospirosis continues to infect livestock, wildlife, canines, and humans.


 A small study performed in Baghdad revealed these results:
  • 565 serum samples were taken from cattle, sheep, and goats
  • 260 cattle
  • 171 sheep
  • 134 goats
The above animals were screened for the presence of leptospiral antibodies and the results showed:
  •  57.3% prevalence in cattle
  • 24.6% prevalence in sheep
  • 22.4% prevalence in goats.


The veterinarian will suspect leptospirosis based on a history of the dog’s recent activities, geographic location, and physical symptoms.  It’s important to let the veterinarian know about any and all outdoor excursions as far back as six months.  While the bacteria will die instantly when subjected to hot and dry conditions, it can easily survive up to 180 days in the right climate.

A variety of diagnostic tests including blood and urine analysis will be conducted. If leptospirosis is being considered, the veterinarian will recommend caution when handling the dog as the disease can be transmitted from animal to human.  A more likely scenario would involve the dog spreading infection to other animals.

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, the dog will be placed on antibiotics right away. He/she will also be treated symptomatically to alleviate immediate issues like dehydration and pain.


To reduce the risks associated with this particular pathogen, avoid:

  • walking through floodwater
  • avoid rivers (no swimming!) after a heavy rainfall
  • if your drinking water is questionable, boiling or chemically treating it will kill the bacteria.
  • discourage wildlife and rodents from your property
  • treat any cuts and scrapes with protective covering

At The End of The Day…

Use common sense around potentially contaminated water systems. Don’t drink, wash, or bath in rivers or other bodies of water that could be infected with the urine of contaminated wildlife.

Dog parks are the perfect place to give your dog some space to run, but be mindful of interactions with other dogs.  We all love to be “kissed” by our favorite pouch, but considering the contagious nature of leptospirosis, it might be a habit best left aside, especially if you live in a wet climate.  Please view the map above to identify the risks inherent in your neighborhood.

Has your dog been diagnosed with leptospirosis? What did you do?

Please share!



DISCLAIMER:  LISA is not a veterinarian, nor does she play one on TV. While she tries to provide the most relevant, quality content, mistakes can happen. Please do not rely on this blog for your pet’s medical needs. See a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and follow-up treatment.

Lisa is dedicated to writing a high-quality blog based on professionally researched data. Her time is spent writing and researching balanced with enjoying family life with her husband and two dogs.

Lisa’s writing skills emerged at an early age. Over time, her fiction has been published in various literary magazines. She has also written for non-fiction journals internationally.

Dogs are Lisa’s passion, and blogging is the means to direct her energy towards their well-being on a global scale.

To find out what Lisa is really about…click here.